Nothing is new under the digital sun

Nothing is new under the digital sun

I have started this blog under the real and generous sun in Montevideo, Uruguay

This blog is a reflection on my place as an individual in the increasingly digitalized society and life in general. Our places on Earth might be physical or metaphysical, few or many. We are constantly placing ourselves and other people as well as being placed by them. The Internet and related new technology allow us to do it faster, more efficiently but, probably, less thoughtfully...How to use these powerful resources for creating good things: insightful lectures, inspiring texts, long lasting relationships, deeper undestanding of life as it goes on? Those are thoughts that I want to share with my students, colleagues and friends.

New term to start soon

Internet marketing course 2013Posted by Veronika Thu, January 10, 2013 15:50:55

The next teaching period is approaching fast. With the help of the committed staff at The Duffy Agency, Sean Duffy and I will meet 65 (or more) Master students for new challenging projects we have planned to carry out together. This is exciting!

The last year’s course – the first one of this kind at Lund School of Economics and Management – resulted in 18 blogs created by our students. These blogs attracted 46,000 unique visitors from 125 countries who made 80,000 visits and generated 181,425 page views. This was a unique publicity for our School!

We go for more ambitious goals this year. More participation, more creativity, more sharing! More focused and meaningful content!

See you on-line!

The results of Internet marketing course 2012 can be seen here!

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Educational trends 2013

New trends in educationPosted by Veronika Thu, January 10, 2013 14:45:58

Changes to the way we approach education are immense. They are happening as a result of the various innovations and advances. iPads revolutionizing the textbook economy, high speed internet shrinking the world and even the incorporation (successfully, even) of mobile into the classroom.

Take a look at some of these innovations and let your mind wonder at the possibility that lays before us!

Edudemic anticipates five trends for 2013:
1. Use SMS Marketing to Connect Education with Life
2. Social Media Enables Students to Educate Communities
3. Universities Offer Free Non Credit On-Line Courses
4. Unused Resources Contribute to Social Impact Projects
5. 3-D Printing Hits the Road

http://edudemic.com/2012/12/the-5-big-education-technology-trends-of-2013/

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Why do we write?

Internet marketing course 2012Posted by Veronika Sun, March 11, 2012 22:27:44

I have been recently reading a great book by Eduardo Galeano, with the title "Open veins of Latin America". The book starts with the introduction "In defense of the word", where the author raises a very important question of why one is writing. The related question is how we can make ourselves heard and whom we can reach with our writing.

"One writes out of a need to communicate and to communicate with others, to denounce that which gives pain and to share that which gives happiness.

One writes against one's solitude and against the solitude of others.

One writes, in reality, for the people whose luck or misfortune one identifies with - the hungry, the sleepless, the rebels, and the wretched of this earth - and the majority of them are illiterate.

How can we make ourselves heard in the midst of a deaf-mute culture?"

Those are some quotes from Galeano's book and he wrote for his country, Uruguay and the whole Latin America whose story he wanted to change from abandonment to the strong voice of its own.

Not many of us have such grand goals in mind, however, if we consider the recent Kony 2012 narrative, it pursues the noble goal of liberating children, at least it looks like that.

What about less ambitious reasons for writing? Producing course papers, writing blog posts like this one, writing articles to be published (or not), writing diaries, writing posts in Facebook. Do we ever ask ourselves why we open a new Word document or an empty page? Is it necessary to have a special goal in mind when we write?

I have written papers, which I wish I have not even started. They were just written to get published. I have very few things written only because it was impossible not to write, things without a reason, task or deadline. And I think this is how it should be - we should write from our hearts, only when we are convinced that we cannot be silent.

Why do you write?

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To blog or not to blog, that is the question after 8/03/12

Internet marketing course 2012Posted by Veronika Mon, March 05, 2012 17:12:53

Finally, after 7 weeks of the course, we are approaching the date when we have to make a decision about our blogs. The last counts will be made soon and after that it is up to you to decide the fate of your blogs. What is a blog if not a conversation between people, both known and unknown? In a physical, off-line world blogging would be similar to gathering together with friends and strangers, on the regular basis, listening to what the hosts have to say, talking and planning the next meeting.

To stop these gatherings would mean that the conversation stops at this particular place but it will, most probably, go on at other, different locations and among different groups of people. What I mean is that any conversation that has happened once leaves traces in people's souls and mind; it has a life of its own. It has accumulated a certain energy that cannot just disappear but can be transformed into another form.

All that means that, irrespective of what you do with your conversations, they will live further in one way or another. Either you keep them going or somebody else will take care of them. So the actual question is: do I care so much about my conversation with the readers that I want to be an active part of it? If yes, I stay in this room. If not, I let others take over. Both ways are possible and the choice is yours.

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Answer to Peter

Guest columnPosted by Veronika Tue, February 28, 2012 17:21:09

Right or wrong, the market is the irrelevant concept for the society’s use

I’ve been thinking about Peter’s recent post – “The market is always wrong” in terms of the market’s acting on the broad social issues as well as the right/wrong dichotomy. Since I’m, for obvious reasons, staying on-line more than off, I will use some Internet sources to make my points.

First of all, what usually appears under the “market” headline: I have Googled “market” and got links to retail market journal (www.market.se); android market (apps for Android telephones), art market in Stockholm (exhibition), Wiki’s article about markets, antique market, stock market, money market and travel market among the first ten search results. On the whole, I got 549 000 000 results. Knowing how much time and money could have been invested by the authors of the corresponding sites to appear that high in the ranking, we might also conclude that those are Internet market’s most marketed marketplaces.

The article in Wikipedia confirms the commonly understood view of market as being the structure or process of carrying out a transaction and establishing the price of anything (food, telephones, apps, art, antique objects, money, travel + 549 000 000 other types of goods and services). Thus, we always need a seller and a buyer who decide on the price, which is, according to many market protagonists never wrong because the price of anything, whether stocks, bananas or art is what the seller and buyer agree on. Thus, if we talk transactions and pricing, the market is right. The value of anything is subjective, the price is not.

The problem is (and Peter points it out correctly) that so many social processes have become subsumed under the notion of the market or discussed in terms of transactions and prices. The market philosophy has extended so far and gone so deep into our lives that even the voices of the most passionate opponents of the all-embracing market philosophy like Pierre Bourdieu (“Acts of resistance”) are too scattered. The prophets of marketplace are too many and they proliferate this term with an even greater passion than before. The social forces that should resist the market trend (government, educational institutions, media, sport, art, and cinema) often choose to go with the market flow. What are the results? The electorate is sold and bought discrediting the very notion of democracy (US and Russia are best examples); governments sell the public institutions to irresponsible owners (Swedish healthcare and free schools); university professors pursue high paid consulting careers instead of teaching our youth to become the intellectuals; media seeks profits through the low quality entertainment, talented athletes are treated as raw breed horses; national treasures disappear in the private mansions; blockbusters fill the pockets of studios and erase our remaining brain cells. These social entities were never designed with a price tag. Priceless, transaction-prone they are.

Not anymore….

Market is wrong when applied to the social, public, common, and needed by many. Those are not commodities that should be bought and sold for profit. Market is right when applied to the exchangeable commodities. We have to re-define what they are.

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The market is always wrong

Guest columnPosted by Peter Svensson Tue, February 28, 2012 08:38:08

The market is always wrong

There is a widespread mantra among neo-liberalists that the market is always right. The most (melo)dramatric version of this view is the idea that the customer is kind, which, consequently, make the rest of us docile subjects. This idea (or ideology) is crucial for the legitimacy of marketing work. What could possibly be suspicious about a work task that has one and one goal only: to serve the market? Giving the market, a market that is always right, what is wants can obviously not be wrong.

However, I have increasingly started to suspect that the opposite is in effect the case. The market is always wrong. By definition.

The market can, as little as anyone else, know what the future will deliver. It is difficult, to say the least, to possess knowledge of what you don’t know that you don’t know. Progression, development, change and revolution seldom stem from market demands since market demands can only be formulated with the frames of what we already know (“I want more of this”). It seems to me that deep changes of society emanate from productive activity, e.g. entrepreneurial projects, political activism, art, education, spiritual practice. If anything, consumption is (sometimes) a good reflection of broader ideological, ideational and spiritual changes in society.

Moreover, allowing the market to make the crucial decisions is deeply undemocratic. The central agent in the market is not demos (people), it is nomisma (money). It should come as no surprise that our voices in the so called “consumer/market democracy” are unequally distributed among us.

If we want a somewhat radically different future, please don’t listen to the market. Pay attention to citizens and democratic subjects rather than the customer-king. Please, don’t ask the market. It is always wrong.

Or perhaps I’m (so) wrong…

Peter Svensson

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The value of the confused state

Internet marketing course 2012Posted by Veronika Wed, February 22, 2012 13:14:35

The value of the confused state

Confusion about the ways to assess the quality of our blogs has been the recurring topic in the class. It has surfaced again during our last lecture and I’ve been thinking about it since that day. We have talked with Sean about this situation and tried to understand the source of confusion. First of all, is the confused state caused by the task itself (creation of a blog with a potential to grow and attract visitors) or the ways in which its outcome is judged (the grading criteria)? Second, what are the consequences of a certain number of students being confused that late in the course (consequences for us and students themselves)? Third and most important, in my opinion, how to deal with confusion in a constructive way?

I will try to come up with some reasonable answers to these questions. I will start from the positive note arguing that confusion is a most natural part of any learning process. Moreover, it is a natural part of any creative process, which our blogging can be clearly identified with.

What is confusion really?

The dictionary provides several definitions. To name a few, beings confusion is feeling or exhibiting an inability to understand something; a disordered state of mind. It is, basically, a partial or, sometimes, even a complete lack of understanding about the (unknown) situation or the preferred course of actions. The perceived inability to control the situation and foresee its outcome makes us confused (bewildered, disoriented, etc).

Most new situations and projects involve periods of confusion felt by many as a discomfort of not knowing something beforehand. In most cases we deal with this feeling by trying to make sense of a new situation by, in the first hand, focusing on things we understand and, by doing so, building the solid ground for new discoveries. This process involves an active search of knowledge, its critical assessment and either its usage to improve our understanding (and lessen confusion) or its abandonment in search for new and more relevant truths.

Confusion is the major vehicle of creation. Picasso understood that better than anyone else. He wrote: “The act of creation is first of all an act of destruction”.

Moreover, feeling completely at ease with a new situation is an act of self-deception: "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on, you are hopelessly confused" [Walter Mondale]

In any new project it is wiser to start with fewer instructions and let things unfold than to begin with the explicitly coherent but inherently flawed set of clear rules. That was exactly the case with our blogging when 1) there were no clear established rules available to us 2) the seemingly relevant rules needed to be tested and modified. A new and untested project like ours required a certain degree of freedom from rules to begin its growth. This is why our goal in the beginning was:

The major task is to make the blog successful and attract traffic to it (measured by specific metrics at the end of the course)

The first measurement parameters mentioned were number of unique visitors while badges were introduced as extra credits. Although arguably contradictory and incomplete, the number of unique visitors makes the growth visible. It has never been introduced as a major assessment criterion. Badging has been dealt with accordingly.

We have arrived at 7 assessment criteria later on in the course and felt that they were really thought through. “Unique visitors” is not even a single criterion but a part of the one.

What all this tells us about the existing state of confused affairs? I would say that those who dealt with confusion in a constructive way focused on the task as such (growing the blog), fine-tuned the tactics when the rules have finally crystallized or, even better, actively influenced the process by suggesting us how to change certain rules (e.g. badging). The constructive critique, which was also timely, has helped us to make the rules more relevant for all. Thank you guys (you know who you are) for that!

Those who stayed confused about the criteria or anything else in the course are still fighting the confusion. I would say to those: stop fighting it! Fighting the confusion only makes it worse. Blaming others (us) won’t help either. Confront it and do something about it.

Some possible steps:

1. Identify what confuses you. Name it.

2. Talk with us or your friends about it.

3. Seek the missing information.

4. Ask: how can I deal with it?

5. Maintain a long term perspective – what would I think about this project in a couple of years?

Allow confusion to be what it should be – the catalyst of creativity!

At the end, being confused was our primary goal with this course!

“What do we want to achieve with this course - Confuse you by questioning things you take for granted!”

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The value of setting high goals

Internet marketing course 2012Posted by Veronika Mon, February 06, 2012 01:00:55

Some of you have told me that I set too high expectations in this course, especially in the individual assignment. I wrote back to one student that this was true, although I did not realise it myself at this moment. This is true - I want you to achieve your highest potential in both theoretical and practical parts of this course.

Studies have shown that teachers' expectations have a profound effect on the academic achievement of students while managers' expectations influence the productivity of their staff. Managers with high expectations about their employees motivate the people around them to perform well, while those with poor expectations cause their staff to become dependent and unproductive. Throughout the academic and business world, expectations have the power to become self-fulfilling prophecies. To put it simple, you become what you and others believe you to become.

The special value of setting high goals and, by doing so, choosing the hard way is the appreciation of one's achievement when the goal has been reached.

The quote below and the foillowing text is taken from the inspiring Facebook page My attitude- My life - My rules (The group Share and Inspire knows these guys!)

If everything was easy, nothing would be worth it."

The things in life that we work the hardest for, will be the things in life that we will remember and cherish the most, while the things in life that come to us with no struggle, will be memories made that we will remember sparingly. Your work ethic is a good indicator of the type of character that you have now and will develop in the future,... and is also a good indicator that a person has reached high levels of maturity, because not everyone agrees with the fact that the things that come easiest arent always worth accepting. It takes a hard worker, a worker who is willing to roll up their sleeves instead of turn up their noses in the face of adversity, to make value out of the things that they know that they must work towards in an effort to make their life, their life, instead of just producing a meaningless one.

I cannot agree more! And you?

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